Car use amounts to ~13% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by sector for 2017, as complied by the EPA, is as follows — basically 20% of our climate change emissions are down to transport and the majority of that is produced by car use:

But it should be noted that this is internal transport only — as the EPA said when we ask for a breakdown of the 20%: “Please be advised that International Aviation and Shipping are not included (by UN convention) in Ireland’s National Inventory. The Aviation and shipping we’re reporting under transport represent purely domestic travel.”'s reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

The breakdown of information is available in full in the National Inventory Report — the two key graphs are below.

There’s very few internal flights in Ireland anymore — the market was slashed by better road and rail options. But still note that with few internal scheduled flights remaining, internal air travel produces notably more emissions than all railway trips which amounts to around 48 million passenger trips (plus some tons of bulk cargo).

Road transport amounts to the vast, vast bulk of emissions for transport in Ireland:

Emissions from cars are nearly 2/3 of all land transport emissions — so, anybody who claims land transport emissions are mainly coming from trucks or buses are wrong.

It should however also be stressed that reducing emissions from vans, trucks and buses is also needed — ie options including cleaner trucks and bus, transfer to rail, and transfer of last-mile van delivery to cargo bikes.


Of course, cycling won’t reduce transport emissions alone. But a combination of ramping up provision for walking, cycling and public transport can have a quicker and more substantial impact than electric cars, even mainly electric cars.

We need fewer excuses and more action. For example, the myth that distances traveled in Ireland are too long does not stack up to any detailed look at the issue. Around 68‬% of trips in Ireland are under 10km — in other words can be cycled in under 30 minutes with decent cycling infrastructure and electric bicycles can extend that further:

IMAGE: Source: National Household Travel Survey 2017

Longer trips can be accommodated by a mix of public transport, the combination of public transport and cycling, and, in some cases, electric cars, especially in areas of very limited options. But the current plan of electric cars first does not stack up, nor would just massive investment in public transport alone.

Potential of transport modes

The below chart is a subjective view of how much different modes can be scaled nationally. It is a work in process and is the most subjective thing on this page — but when some people think public transport is mainly the solution, it’s hard to think that they are looking at the full range of types of trips that people make on a daily or near daily basis.

Discussion: Dart or Intercity have their own roles to play in lowering emissions — car use here is based on current conditions. The car column now has nearly all great because there’s little alternatives on a national bases — the “car after changes” column accounts for not just space being less for cars in urban areas but also that space being given to alternatives.

If climate change was not a strong enough reason, tackling overuse of cars is also needed to enable active travel which helps deal with inactivity and car use is also massively space inefficient.

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